When the Spanish conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who was then based in Panay Island in the Visayas, dispatched, sometime between 1565 to 1570, to this part of the islands an expeditionary force headed by Capitan Luis Enriquez de Guzman, together with their chaplain, the Augustinian friar, Fray Alonso Jimenez, primarily to gather provisions for the starving Spanish force in Panay, and at the same time, evangelize whatever native villages they might come upon in the course of their foray, the group stumbled upon a small fishing village at the mouth of the Ginning River, in what is now the Municipality of Magallanes.
This was the village of Gibalong, the very first Christian settlement in the island of Luzon. It was here where the first mass in Luzon was celebrated by the Augustinian friar, Fray Alonso Jimenez.
Thus, the name Ibalong, to refer to the whole of Bikol Region, really came from this small fishing village, Gibalong, which is now a mere sitio of Barangay Siuton, in Magallanes town, where the local parish constructed sometime in the 1970s a small wooden chapel and a concrete historical marker on the site. In some old Spanish maps, the Spanish cartographers even retained the original spelling by identifying, either the whole Bikol Region or parts of it â€“ Tierra de Gibalong. In his book, From Ibalon to Sorsogon: A Historical Survey of Sorsogon Province to 1905 (New Day Pub. QC, Philippines, 1991), Dr. Luis C. Dery writes, â€śHistorical records showed that the Spaniards started using the name Ibalon as early as 1567 to refer variously to a pre-Spanish native settlement in Sorsogon Gulf, to the entire Bicol Region, and sometimes to the entire island of Luzon. The Spaniardsâ€™ indiscriminate use of this name was due to their inadequate knowledge of Bicol geography at the outset of their exploration and conquest of the region. Gradually, they were able to delimit Ibalon and the rest of Kabikolanâ€™s territory.â€ť
Sorsogon became a province, separate from the Province of Albay to which it was formerly attached, in 1894. This is the reason why, in 1994 the centennial foundation anniversary of the Province started to be commemorated and celebrated with a festival â€“ the Kasanggayahan Festival â€“ every October of each year.
Sorsogon is located at the southernmost tip of Luzon, approximately 600 kilometers from Manila and a total land area of 214,444 hectares or 2,141.44 square kilometers with a stretch of 336 kilometers coastline.
The tropical climate of Sorsogon is largely influenced by two air-stream systems â€“ the northeast monsoon, which prevails from October to May; and the southeast monsoon, which occurs from June to September.
There is no dry season as rains come throughout the year, but there is a pronounced high rainfall period from November to January. November is the wettest month, while April and May are the least rainy months. Considered the summer months are the months of March, April and May
Bikol and Pilipino are widely used in Sorsogon and anywhere in the region, including English, which is widely spoken and extensively used in business and government.
The major crops are abaca, pili and coconut. The province boasts of producing the best hemp in the Bicol Region.
Fishing industry ranks next. Freshwater and offshore fishing resources are not yet fully developed.
These are plenty of raw materials for cottage industries. It has untouched deposits of sulfur, kaolin, limestone and coal.
The province is accessible from Manila and Visayas via the Pan Philippine Highway. Air conditioned buses plying the Manila to Samar and Leyte routes in the Visayas Island across the San Bernardino Strait from Allen/San Isidro to Matnog.
To get around within the province, taxicabs, for-hire cars, air-conditioned buses, jeepneys, and tricycles are readily available at all hours of the day. One can do an exotic city tour on the ubiquitous 2-passenger tricycles.
From Manila, one can take direct flights to Legazpi City in Albay province. Flying takes only about 50 minutes. From Legazpi, it is only a 45-minute pleasant drive overland to Sorsogon City.
Sorsogon is also accessible via the Manila-Cebu; Masbate-Pilar/Bulan route. Luxury ships from Manila to the Port of Cebu. From Cebu another ship can take you on a twelve-hour trip to the Port of Cebu, Masbate and from Masbate, a fast craft can take you on another two-hour ride to the rustic town of Pilar. For-hire motorized bancas are also available.